Hari Sreenivasan is a CBS News correspondent based in Dallas.
Water, water...everywhere, and nowhere at once.
Yesterday, I was in the town of Marble Falls, Texas- the place where the rain bomb exploded. You might have heard the numbers: 19.5 inches in a single night- to put that in perspective, that is about eight months of rain in less than eight hours. Needless to say, there are very few drainage infrastructures that could possibly deal with that sort of a torrent, and certain roadways and bridges in this town of 7,000+ were shredded by the force of surging creeks and overflowing tributaries.
Another casualty was the water system. The force of the flowing water was so strong, that as it peeled back asphalt like carpet, and carved and gouged its way down, it also unearthed and snapped some of the water mains and damaged the intake system which may take several days to fix. One of the firefighters we spoke to said that he couldn't fill a glass of water with what was coming out of a nearby hydrant.
The entire town is under a boil restriction, and there are very few places that water is running on tap, and even those water towers are expected to be depleted within the next couple of days. We all know that water is one of the most precious commodities on earth, but not until you drive by business after business and realize that there can be no dishes washed at a restaurant, no coffee boiled at a starbucks or even toilet flushed at a gas station that it sinks in.
What happens to the people that work at these businesses which are shut down? Will their employers continue to pay for non-work when the businesses are closed? What happens to insuring a steady water supply for emergency services? How far will the fire department have to truck water in, and will it be enough to fight a house or structure fire if need be? What happens to hotels- will they have to buy supplies and have their own reservoirs? Its one thing to have restrictions on watering your lawn or washing your car, its another to have to think about where you're going to get your drinking water and how much it is going to cost.
As several parts of the United States face drought conditions, and as concerns over climate change have people thinking big picture and long term about possible shortages of water as certain regions get more dry, come to Marble Falls, Texas, to see a microcosmic immediate snapshot of what happens when water is everywhere -- and nowhere -- at once.